In September, Michael was released from prison after serving over 30 years. Upon his release, Michael and his family reached out to Project Place to secure services that would help him safely adjust after three decades of confinement. While he was incarcerated, society changed in various ways, including many advancements in technology. Michael came home to a new world full of technology that he did not understand and that was very intimidating. Recognizing that this would be a barrier in his successful reentry, his case managers began to support him through daily phone calls, Zoom meetings, connecting him with community activities, and speaking opportunities. Michael participated in Project Place’s stabilization program (SPARRC) and Work Ready program where he learned basic computer skills and smartphone technology, which helped him reach various goals, including obtaining his driver’s license. The Work Ready class, in coordination with his reentry case manager, helped Michael create a resume that he used to find employment, at The Hope Chest of Bethany House Ministries.
While incarcerated, Michael was part of the Boston University Prison Education Program at Norfolk, working on obtaining a bachelor’s degree. Upon his release he was 12 credits away from graduating. One of Michael’s goals was to finish his degree. His case managers, Beth and Joli, worked with Dorise Heller and Mary Ellen Mastrorilli of the Boston University MET program to help Michael secure classes and continue his higher education. In January, Michael enrolled at Boston University to finish his bachelor’s degree and said, “none of these goals would have been possible without the help of my case managers’ dedication and willingness to see me succeed”.
“Programs like Project Place are a crucial bridge to educational reentry for formerly incarcerated individuals. People who seek to continue their education face a daunting task of navigating colleges, financial aid, majors, and a variety of student services that they might not even be aware of,” says Mary Ellen Mastrorilli, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Social Sciences at BU MET and Faculty Director of the BU Prison Education Program. “Additionally, reentry can be a traumatic, uncertain process for many formerly incarcerated individuals, so they need a safe place, trusting relationships, and competent reintegration professionals who can assist them in achieving their educational goals. Project Place provides all of those things and it pays off every time someone turns toward education, sobriety, and employment.”